November 7, 2019

UFC Moscow: Dana White Is All-In On Greg Hardy

By Adam Martin

UFC heavyweight Greg Hardy is arguably the most controversial fighter in mixed martial arts today. Despite being the target of intense criticism from fans, media, and even fellow fighters, the UFC remains committed to promoting him. UFC President Dana White and the UFC matchmakers believe in Hardy's potential and think he can be the next big thing in heavyweight MMA. They're clearly all-in on Hardy.

This weekend at UFC Moscow, Hardy gets the biggest step-up in competition of his young career when he takes on former Bellator heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov in the co-main event. It's the highest-profile fight to date for Hardy, as he takes on a top-10-ranked heavyweight in the prime of his career. The UFC gave Hardy this amazing opportunity to springboard up the rankings and close in on a spot amongst the top five heavyweights in the world.

It's been an amazing run for Hardy in MMA. He only turned pro in 2018 and has already fought four times in the Octagon, with two wins, one (disqualification) loss, and one No Contest. His fights, just like his off-field behavior during his NFL career, have been extremely controversial and polarizing. In his UFC debut, he was DQ'd for landing an illegal knee to the face of a downed opponent in Allen Crowder. He then picked up a quick first-round TKO win over Dmitrii Smoliakov, followed by an even quicker TKO win over Juan Adams, before he apparently defeated Ben Sosoli by unanimous decision. But that fight ended up being the most controversial of them all, as it was later overturned and changed to a No Contest because Hardy illegally used an inhaler between rounds. Controversy just can't seem to escape this man.

Despite all of the backlash and negative attention directed towards the UFC for keeping a domestic abuser on the roster, the UFC is all in on the man. The promotion's top decision-makers see potential in Hardy as a mixed martial artist, and they continue to give him huge opportunities that other fighters haven't received. It's very rare that an unranked fighter will get the chance to face a top-10 opponent in his eighth pro MMA fight, but that's the opportunity Hardy has been given this weekend.

That being said, it's easy to see why the UFC continues to push Hardy despite all of the negativity surrounding him. As a pure prospect, Hardy is obviously very raw, but the potential is there. He's an incredible athlete. He's fast, he's powerful, and he's experienced dealing with the media. He continues to show new skills every time he steps into the cage. Hardy will never be able to escape from his past, and the UFC knows that. But they continue to push him anyway, even knowing the negative reaction that provokes, just because they believe he has the potential to be the UFC Heavyweight Champion.

If Greg Hardy can step into the Octagon this weekend at UFC Moscow and defeat a man who has 30 more pro fights of experience in Volkov, it will be hard to deny that the UFC was right about his potential. The UFC has shown that it believes in Hardy even when others don't, and he's getting a massive chance this weekend to jump into the elite of the heavyweight division with a win. And if he loses, he was expected to lose. It really is a win-win situation for Hardy. The UFC, on the other hand, is all-in on Greg Hardy. Are you?

UFC on ESPN+ 21
Alexander Volkov vs. Greg Hardy

UFC on ESPN+ 21: Zabit vs. Kattar (formerly UFC on ESPN+ 21: Dos Santos vs. Volkov) takes place November 9, 2019 at CSKA Arena in Moscow, Russia.

Click HERE for more UFC on ESPN+ 21 Pre-Fight Analysis


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